Review: Cold Shot (Chesapeake Valor #1) by Dani Pettrey

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In college, Griffin McCray and his four best friends had their lives planned out. Griffin and Luke Gallagher would join the Baltimore PD. Declan Gray would head to the FBI and Parker Mitchell would go on to graduate school as a crime scene analyst. But then Luke vanished before graduation and their world–and friendships–crumbled.

Now Griffin is a park ranger at Gettysburg, having left life as a SWAT-team sniper when a case went bad. The job is mostly quiet–until the day he captures two relic hunters uncovering skeletal remains near Little Round Top. Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott determines that the body is modern–a young social justice lawyer missing since spring–and all evidence points to the work of an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan Gray takes over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he’ll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he–and those he cares about–are going to escape a downward spiral of murder that crosses continents.

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I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Cold Shot will be available February 2, 2016.

I enjoyed Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series so when I saw she was starting a new series I definitely wanted to check it out. I’m very happy to report that I liked the start of this Chesapeake Valor series even more!

I have to say that one of the reasons I liked it so much is that it reminded me a little bit of the tv show Bones, which I loved during it’s early years. Griffin is a former sniper (like Booth) and Finley is a forensic anthropologist (like Temperence, aka “Bones”). When Griffin comes across remains in Gettysburg he calls upon Finley’s expertise when he suspects the body has been more recently killed than he expected. To assist in the investigation they bring in Griffin’s childhood friends Declan, an FBI agent, and Parker, a crime scene investigator (though Parker is no longer really a friend), Parker’s assistant Avery, and later their other old friend, Kate.

I liked the characters in the story a lot. Though the story mostly focused on Griffin and Finley, we get several different perspectives and they were all pretty distinct. I liked learning some of the backstory between Griffin, Parker, Declan, and Kate and look forward to getting even more in the coming books.

I also liked the romance in the book. I thought Griffin and Finley were well matched and they complemented each other well. They both had to overcome some of their own demons before they were ready for a relationship, and they both played a role in each other’s life to help them come to terms with the past and with God. I also liked the developing relationship between Parker and Avery. The one thing I didn’t like about the romance was that there was just a little too much of the “He/She’s so beautiful/kind/strong/special, but I’m not ready/don’t deserve him/her” inner-monologues going on for my taste. That’s not to say the romance wasn’t sweet, because it was, it’s just a problem I have with a lot of romances.

I thought the suspense was done pretty well, as there were several life-endangering situations and the plot moved along fairly quickly. The main mystery was just ok for me, though. There was a twist that kind of came out of left field and while it did work, it slightly annoyed me. It always makes me feel like I’ve wasted time trying to figure things out when the answer doesn’t even become a possibility until late in the game.

I really liked the way that Pettrey wove in issues of faith with the story. There’s an overall message of forgiveness and trusting in God’s presence that was very well done. Prayers and discussions on the subject were organic with the characters and it never felt like you were being “preached” to, so I think that even those who aren’t Christians would still enjoy the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed Cold Shot. I really liked the well-developed characters, the thoughtful way their faith played into the story, and the suspense. While I enjoyed Pettrey’s previous series, I think her writing has greatly improved with each new book and I think this one is her best yet. I look forward to spending more time with these characters when the series continues.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2016

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I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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Cold Shot (Chesapeake Valor #1) by Dani Pettrey. Read December 30-January 1. 4 stars.

I think this is Pettrey’s best book yet. Review to come closer to release date.

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Jesse’s Girl (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally. Read January 2. 3 stars.

I liked the first half of this book that focused on Maya’s and Jesse’s first day together more than I did the rest of the book. There were several cute moments and I did like their relationship overall, but I have the same issues I have with pretty much every other book I’ve read in this series. I think the casual view on sex is irresponsible for the YA demographic and I don’t like the way Christians are portrayed. They are always hypocritical clichés and nothing more and it’s kind of offensive.

Overall, though, the book was a fast easy read and since I’m trying to be more generous with ratings, it gets 3 stars.

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Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini. Read January 2-3. 3 stars.

This was pretty interesting. Scientology has always kind of interested me (not in a “hey, I want to join” way, but in a “Tom Cruise is kind of weird” way). One thing that I really wanted was a big section on Remini’s role on Saved by the Bell (she will ALWAYS be Stacy Carosi to me), but it was only briefly mentioned in like two sentences. I also wish there was more of her time on The King of Queens, which was a show I enjoyed. Overall, though, interesting and informative on Scientology. I’m glad she found her way out from under it.

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The Widow by Fiona Barton. Read January 5-9. 3.5 Stars

The Widow is not really what I expected it to be. That’s always the problem when a book is compared to Gone Girl. I expected gleefully crazy psychopaths and shocking twists, but there is none of that to be found in this book. That’s not a bad thing, of course, on it’s own. But since my expectations were not met, I feel just a bit let down by it. So let my reading experience inform yours. This book is not like Gone Girl. But it is an intriguing, thoughtful, character-driven mystery that’s worth the read. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. Read January 9. 4 stars.

This short story was a quick, easy read and was pretty much everything I expect from Flynn. Part of me wishes she would’ve made this into a full-length novel, but I think the slightly unsatisfying ending would have been much harder to swallow if it were a full length book (like Gone Girl). It creeped me out a bit and left my head spinning and just made me want MORE from Flynn. Seriously, I’m ready for the next book!

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Hired Bride (Beaufort Brides #1) by Noelle Adams. Read January 10-11. 3 Stars.

This wasn’t quite as cute as I wanted it to be. I love a good fake-relationship story, but I thought this focused too much on them trying to fool themselves instead of other people. And it skipped over a lot of the getting-to-know-you parts and focused a lot more on the, ahem, intimate moments, which were kind of graphic. Still, though, it was an overall cute book.

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Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles #1) by Gena Showalter. Read January 14-15. 3 stars.

A little Twilight, a little The Mortal Instruments, a touch of Mean Girls. I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would after I read a few of really great reviews on it. I thought the pace was a little too slow and it was a lot more high school drama than I thought it would be. There were a few cute moments between Cole and Ali, though.
In the dedication in the beginning, the author talks about how when she was writing this she was sick and she started seeking the Lord so I was kind of expecting this to be a little more Christian fiction and it wasn’t. There was definitely way more teenage sex than I expected.
I got this from the library in a bundle, so I’ll probably read the next books to see if they pick up a little more.

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Anything for You (Blue Heron #5) by Kristan Higgins. Read January 15-17. 3.5 Stars

Another cute story by Kristan Higgins. I liked the inclusion of a character with developmental disabilities. I liked Connor and Jess grew on me. I wish there was a little more of some of the characters from the other books. Some of the themes were a little reminiscent of some of Higgan’s other books – most notably The Next Best Thing, but since that’s one of my favorites, I was ok with it.

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Through the Zombie Glass (White Rabbit Chronicles #2) by Gena Showalter. Read January 17. 3 stars.

This book could have been about 100 pages shorter. There wasn’t much happening until about the last quarter or so of the book. There were love triangles (squares?) hinted at in the beginning, but I’m thankful that they didn’t become a main plot point. I still have one more book in the bundle from the library, so I’m going to continue with the series.

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Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce. Read January 18-19. 3.5 stars.

Pretty cute with a great concept, but the characters were often hard to like. Full review to come closer to release date.

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RE-READS

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All I Ever Wanted and The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins. Higgins can always help me get through book slumps.

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DNF

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The Queen of Zombie Hearts (White Rabbit Chronicles #3) by Gena Showalter. I tried. Really I did. When they’re fighting zombies or trying to figure out what Anima is up to, I was interested, but every time it focused on Cole and Ali’s relationship or Ali’s friends (who got on my very last nerve) I just couldn’t stop rolling my eyes. I’ve read enough reviews that I can kind of piece together the big events of how the story resolves so I think it’s time to give this series up.